College turns Flanigan into power hitter

When Rob Flanigan reunites with an old classmate from South Gwinnett, somebody who hasn't seen him in years, he understands that a look of surprise may come next.

That tends to happen with a 60-pound weight gain.

Flanigan, enjoying a huge junior season with North Georgia's baseball team, hasn't put on the pounds through poor diet and lack of exercise. He deliberately worked on his transformation from a lanky, 6-foot-4, 175-pound high schooler to a 235-pound first baseman who may get picked in this year's baseball draft.

"I finally got to college and started working out a little bit," Flanigan said of the added bulk.

"I went from 175 to 215 my first year of college. I started with the protein, working out and eating a lot. I could never gain weight in high school. That's probably why I didn't hit many home runs (at South)."

That's not a problem now.

The left-handed slugger leads North Georgia (38-19) with 18 home runs, 70 RBIs and a .726 slugging percentage.

That's in addition to team bests in batting average (.406), runs (68), walks (47), hit by pitches (10) and on-base percentage (.522).

"I hit in high school, I just wasn't hitting for power," Flanigan said. "It feels a lot better now than being a singles and doubles hitter. When I started hitting a few (homers), I just wanted to do it even more. I used to be the home run king in little league, but high school was different. It feels good to hit (homers) again."

Flanigan's power developed his first two college seasons at Truett-McConnell, where he hit .380 with 15 home runs and 73 RBIs. Ten of his homers came during his sophomore season.

He's raised his home run total even more this season, earning All-Peach Belt Conference honors and boosting himself into a possible draft pick.

"That's what I want to do, play pro baseball, if not after this year then after next year," Flanigan said. "It's very possible that it might happen for me from what I've been told."


Locals honored

by Peach Belt

Flanigan wasn't the only Gwinnett grad honored this week by the Peach Belt Conference, which also had North Georgia's Craig Brisson, Columbus State's Jonnie Geiger, Augusta State's Shannon Wilkerson and Georgia College's Richard Pirkle on its all-conference team.

Brisson, a Parkview grad, is hitting .365 with seven homers, 42 RBIs and 22 stolen bases. He was selected as an outfielder along with fellow Gwinnett grads Geiger and Wilkerson.

Geiger, a Shiloh grad, is hitting .381 with five homers, 35 RBIs and 36 stolen bases. Wilkerson, a Dacula grad, hit .380 with 16 home runs, 57 RBIs and 14 stolen bases.

Pirkle made the team at designated hitter after batting .366 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs.


Wiggins, Rogers among SEC honorees

Shiloh grad Megan Wiggins of Georgia and Dacula grad Brittany Rogers of Alabama each made the All-SEC Softball Team released on Wednesday. Both were first-teamers.

Wiggins, named SEC Freshman of the Week for the second straight week on Monday, also was on the Freshman All-SEC team. Wiggins is hitting .378 with 20 RBIs, while Rogers is batting .443 with 18 RBIs and 53 stolen bases.

Auburn's Myesha Finney, a South Gwinnett grad, made the All-SEC Defensive Team, as did Rogers.

Three on SoCon team

Georgia Southern's Nina Iduate and Jenny Side and Elon's Jackie Gonzalez were named to the All-Southern Conference Team this week with Iduate being a first-teamer.

The Norcross grad is hitting .377 with a league-best 68 hits. She hit .397 against Southern Conference teams during the regular season.

Side, a South Gwinnett grad, made the second team after setting school records with 13 home runs and 51 RBIs, both conference bests.

Gonzalez, a Peachtree Ridge grad, hit .340 this season.

Gwinnett Grads is a column that runs on Saturdays spotlighting the achievements of past Gwinnett standouts. Coaches and parents are urged to send suggestions via e-mail to will.hammock@gwinnettdailypost.com or via fax to 770-339-8081.